Beasty Bar

Release: 10/12/2020    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 28 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

There’s a party at the club and all the animals from the neighborhood are clamoring to get in! Each turn, a new animal arrives in the line, jostling to get past the bouncer.

The tall Giraffe can step past shorter animals one at a time. The sneaky Weasel scootches past bigger animals. The speedy Cheetah replaces the slowest animal. The hungry Crocodile eats all animals lower on the food chain.

When the line is filled with five beasts, the club doors open and the first two animals in line are let into the bar. How many of your party animals can you get into the Beasty Bar before the night is over?

Beasty Bar is a family of whimsical card games with elements of trick-taking and hand management. Each game features the same core set of rules but adds a new set of animals and abilities to explore. You can play each game separately or combine cards across editions to create your own deck of twelve party animals.

Listen in to discover why we we aren’t lion when we say Beasty Bar is a whale of a good time (and also Major Fun).

The Beasty Bar Family of Games       

Beasty Bar  Zoch Verlag  |  BGG  |  Buy 

Beasty Bar : New Beasts in Town  Zoch Verlag  |  BGG  |  Buy 

Beasty Bar : Born to Be Wild  Zoch Verlag  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Stefan Kloss & Anna Appolzer

Publisher: Zoch Verlag

Artist: Alexander Jung

2-4 players  20 min.  ages 8+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn: 8-10 minutes

 

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At the Zoo  by Living Brass  |  the song

At the Zoo  by The Metronome Quintet  |  the song

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Dragonrealm

Dragonrealm

  Gamewright  |  Game Factory | BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Darren Kisgen Art: Chris Beatrice
Publisher: Gamewright, Game Factory 
2-4 players 20-30 minutes ages 10+
MSRP $25

Time to teach & learn: 5-10 minutes

text-the concept

Pack your lucky socks and get ready for an adventure exploring Dragonrealm! Sneak into the witch’s cabin, search the ogre’s treehouse, or storm the dragon’s lair. Explore the wilds and add adventurers to different locations in the hope of getting the most treasure. But watch out for goblins who might get there first and grab the treasure before you!

text-the components

Dragonrealm comes with lushly illustrated cards, plus custom wooden pawns and dice.

There are 68 adventurer cards, most of which you’ll use to assail the locations in the game. Adventurer cards come in 5 different colors, and are numbered from 1-12.   In addition, a few adventure cards will trigger the arrival of goblins or an untimely rockslide.

There are 16 enhancement cards to aid you in your journey.

There are 21 large format location cards. Locations come in four colors, representing the different obstacles and trials you will face on your quest. There are spaces for adventurers and goblins, plus icons detailing the type and difficulty of challenges at that location.  Each adventure will culminate at a dragon location card, where great challenge and great treasure awaits!

The game is packed with chunky wooden pawns. Each player gets 8 adventurers to represent your team . There are also 6 custom wooden goblins that are sure to be annoying and get in your way as you play.

The 6 custom dice will see constant action as you play. Each die is numbered from 1-4, with two 2s and 3s, and a single 1 and 4.

Last but not least, the one thing both you and the goblins want most, a pile of 50 treasure coins!

To begin, deal 5 Adventurer cards to each player. Each player also gets to choose some enhancements to take along. A Fireball Spell could get you out of a jam.  A Potion of Invisibility might get us past some guards. Or perhaps your Pet Chipmunk could overwhelm a monster with its cuteness! Then, create a deck of 7 location cards, including 2 cards from each color, ending with a dragon location. The road to adventure begins here. You’re ready to explore Dragonrealm!

text-the mechanics

In Dragonrealm, players will collect sets of cards. Playing different sets of cards allows your adventurers to roll dice to explore and take over locations.

The goal of the game is to accumulate more treasure than your fellow adventurers.

On your turn you have two choices: Explore or Rest.

When you Explore, you play from 1-6 cards from your hand to deal with a location in one of three ways: Sneak, Search, or Storm. The method you select will depend on the strength and weakness of your party of adventurers, that is, the cards in your hand.

Sneak lets you play cards in a row, regardless of color ( a 4-5-6, for example).

A thorough Search requires cards all of the same number (three 8s, for example).

Feeling bold? Storm a location with a hand of cards of the same color.

Once you select a method, call out the action and the location.

“I am going to Sneak into the Cave of Bats,” for example.

For each card you play that fits the action you declared, you’ll roll one of the custom dice. Add all the dice together to see how you did.

Each location shows different target numbers required to successfully place an adventurer.

If you Sneak into the Cave of Bats, the action here will require a total of 8 from the dice to reach the target number, a Search needs a total of 6, and a Storm action needs a whopping total of 13. But notice the yellow ring around the 13. That indicates you’ll place two of your adventurers, should you succeed. Risky, but taking a chance may pay off in big ways!

If your Explore works out, you’ll place an adventurer (or two!) and discard the cards you used. Now draw one card, and your turn is over.

Of course, not every die roll will go your way, so failure is an option. Should you fail, you’ll place one of your adventurers on the Adventurers Academy for further training. From there, they may assist your team in future Explore actions. During future Explore turns, each member of your team on the Academy card can add +1 to your die total.

The bulk of your game will be spent exploring, hoping to place adventurers on location cards in order to score points when the card fills. But to do this well, you must have cards to power your team.

Rest allows you to add 2 cards to your hand, either from those face up, or face down from the deck. You’ll be building up your hand to power future exploits. Which cards will propel your team towards victory? If you’re looking to Search, you’ll want to gather cards of the same number. If you want to Sneak, pick up numbered cards that are in sequence. If you’re planning on Storming, look for cards of the same color.

Of course, drawing cards may also allow goblins to seize a spot in a location, or trigger a rockslide.

If a goblin card is revealed, you’ll place a goblin on the indicated location. They will compete with the players to claim their share of treasure. Any gold goblins win is hauled away, never to be seen again.

If you trigger a rockslide you’ll be forced to pass a number of cards from your hand to an opponent. Rest assured, your opponents won’t be passing you anything they think you can use.

As your adventure advances, locations will begin to fill up with player’s pawns and pesky goblins. As soon as a card is filled, its treasures have been completely explored. Now some players will be rewarded with treasure.

If you have the most adventurers on the card, you get the first place award shown on the card. Players with the second most markers on a location collect the lower amount of coins. The top player  also collects the card for its value in dragonstones. At the end of the game, the player with the most dragonstones gets a five coin bonus.

A new card from the location deck is revealed to replace the explored one.. The quest continues, culminating in a final conflict with a dragon, the last card in the location deck. Once the dragon is defeated, the game ends and  any remaining locations are scored as if they were complete. Now everyone adds up the treasure they have collected and includes the value of any enhancements worth coins. The player with the most dragonstones collects five extra coins. The player with the most treasure wins!

text-apart

Dragonrealm drills down to extract the essence of any role playing game—the brave party, tackling dangers together, but each with an eye for individual glory and gain. Sure, we are all working together to defeat the dragon–but still, I’m Looking Out for Number One! I don’t mind if you get some, as long as I get more.

Every turn feels important in Dragonrealm. The clock is ticking as other players send their pieces to a location. Should you dive in too or wait for the right combination of cards? Even watching a player Rest is important. Did they just pull the cards they need to Explore next turn? Should I strike now?

Not that Resting is without its share of perils. Goblins might pop up, spoiling the odds of capturing a location. And an ill-timed rockslide tests your desire to build the perfect hand.

In a more serious game these chaotic elements would feel tiresome. Here, they actually add to the storytelling. “I was this close to having it all my way. And then you triggered a rockslide, spoiling everything! Clumsy oaf.”

Additionally, the game includes an alternate to Adventurer’s Academy: Adventurer’s Alley. Your pawns sent here can’t help directly with your die rolls. Instead, they can be used to purchase more Enhancement cards. Need to power through a difficult Storm? Take the Dwarf Hammer with you. Tied for control of a location? The Wizard’s Hat can put you in charge!

Another bit of brilliance comes out in the way failure is handled. Not only is an adventurer sent to where he can help you later, but unlike in a successful attempt, you keep the cards you used. This little detail serves to encourage players to plunge ahead and take a risk, moving the game along nicely.

text-final

The allure of any quest is in the stories that emerge after: the twists of Fate, the what-might-have-beens, and the triumphs. Dragonrealm presents an easily approachable, compact game which encourages the players to craft their own story with each decision they make.

Dragonrealm creates a space in which older players can plan a strategy while younger players might crash ahead in pursuit of treasure. There’s room for both approaches. In fact, you might find everyone watching and learning from each other.

Hybrid games which combine board and role playing elements have become wildly popular in the past several years. Mostly, these are longer affairs, which delve into great detail over multiple sessions and clearly speak to an older, more experienced group of players. Dragonrealm makes room for all ages, inviting everyone to play together. 

Dragonrealm is a wonderful introduction to hybrid adventure games and we’re glad to see it earn both our awards. In less than an hour, you can walk away with a fun story based on strategic decisions and challenges for players young and old to enjoy.

Just don’t get in my way, because that treasure is mine!

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Written by: Doug Richardson

Point Salad

Point Salad

AEG |  BGG | Buy

Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankwich
Publisher: AEG   Art: Dylan Mangini
2-6 players 15-30 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $20

Time to teach & learn: 3 minutes

text-the concept

It’s dinnertime! What do we have to eat?

Let’s see…. lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, carrots, and cabbage.

Salad. We have salad.

Salad? What’s the point? That’s it! Let’s have a Point Salad!

There are all kinds of veggie cards available to you. Who can assemble them into the tastiest meal?

text-the components

Point Salad has 108 cards, depicting one of the six salad ingredients on one side: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, and cabbage. On the back side of each card is a unique scoring ability, which you will use to make your salad stand out from the rest. The corners of the point scoring side also show which salad ingredient is on its reverse.

text-the mechanics

Point Salad is a card drafting game in which players assemble salad ingredients and point cards  to score as much as possible, in as many ways as possible.

Shuffle the deck, and divide the cards into three piles, points side up. From the three piles, flip out two cards each, veggie side up. This will form the six card Veggie Market.

On your turn you will take cards and place them in front of you. You will either:

Take two cards from the Veggie Market  OR

Take one point card from the top of one of the three decks

Additionally, once per turn, you may take a free action. You may flip over any point card to its veggie side. Note that you may never flip a card from its veggie side to its point side.

Why flip? Well, maybe that point card isn’t working out for you. Maybe the card is more valuable as a veggie. Or perhaps, by flipping the card you can keep an opponent from scoring a point card of his own.

After you’ve taken your turn, turn over cards from the decks to fill any holes in the Veggie Market. If a deck runs out of cards, cut the biggest remaining deck in half, and slide the bottom half over to fill in.

The game continues, each player collecting salad cards or point cards, until all the cards have been drafted.

You’ll  consider all the veggies you’ve collected in your salad to see how many different ways they might help you score. Each salad card is used to score each point card.

Point cards present a huge variety of scoring opportunities. Some will award points for a specific veggies. Some ask you to collect one type of veggie, but penalize for others. Some ask you to compare with other players. Do you have the most or least of a veggie?

Here’s an example!

If the veggie and point cards above make up your salad at the game end, you would score:

  • 6 points (3 cabbage x 2 points)
  • 15 points (3 sets of lettuce + cabbage).
  • 4 points  (3 lettuce x 3, minus 5 points for onions)
  • 8 points (One set of 3 onions).
  • 15 points  (5 onions x 3, no peppers)
  • 10 points if you had the most lettuce, or tied for the most.

Your salad would score 48 points!

text-apart

Most games start with a clear cut goal for all players. Be the first across the finish line, or the first to score 100 points. The players all share the same goal from the beginning. This is true of Point Salad: to win, you must outscore your opponents.

Some games alter this formula by adding a slight twist in the form of variable scoring goals. Player A might score more points than anyone for his donkeys, while Player B will profit if they concentrate on cows.  Whether a player chooses these goals, or has them assigned, the goals are just variations on a theme.

Point Salad blows all this up from the start. You know you need to build a salad. And you know you need to score points. How you accomplish this is all up to you.

Need direction? Grab a promising looking point card, and start taking veggies which fit that goal. Later in the game, maybe you’ll find a complementary point card which works with what you’ve already assembled.

Or maybe, you just start taking salad cards. After all, you get twice as many cards per turn than point cards. Why not pick some veggies, and wait to see what point cards fit? There’s no hurry. You might not even take a point card until the game is half over.

The point is, in Point Salad there is no scripted play. The choices are all up to the players from Turn One. Although you’re all using the same ingredients (the cards), each player’s salad will be unique . The 108 different scoring cards provide an almost infinite variety, ensuring that no two games are ever likely to feature the same paths to victory.

text-final

The term Point Salad is a nerdy joke among gamers. Any game which offers a large variety of ways in which to score points is dubbed a “point salad” game. Think of a point salad game like a giant salad bar. You load your plate with whatever you need to score points.

Here, the designers have run amok with this idea, and produced a game with a previously unfathomable number of ways to score. Point Salad invites us to the biggest salad bar ever. All the salad basics are represented by the veggie cards.The point cards represent every conceivable garnish and dressing you could ever ask for.

When everything you do scores points, playing a run of the mill point salad style game could seem a mechanical exercise, robbed of all joy.  It could even be overwhelming . Too much of a good thing is just too much.  And this could lead to paralysis.

But Point Salad makes this trick work.

How? Simplicity.

Point Salad concentrates on the basics. Take two salad cards or take a point card. That’s the game! Play so simple, kids can compete, and have fun. Yet within this simple structure a world of possibilities opens up, presenting even hardcore gamers with engaging challenges.  We think that Point Salad proves that playing with your food can be Major Fun.

Written by: Doug Richardson

5211

Release: 10/14/2019    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 79 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

5211 is a press-your-luck card game with deep roots in casual classics. On one level, it’s a kissing cousin to stud poker.Cards are selected by each player in secret and then played out: first  2, then 1, then 1. Then we score. Only cards in the majority color score… as long as the total isn’t pushed too high!

If everyone can plays nice, all have the potential to benefit. But, the minute you get too greedy, you’re likely to get bit and another color will score.

5211 has two lives. One as a modern game that can be as thinky as you want it to be. One as a bridge for social interaction, inspired by card nights with family and friends from days gone by.

Listen in to discover how a game so simple in design but rich in its strategy and tactics can be a source of joy for all. We think anyone can play and find Major Fun in 5211.

5211

Next Move  |  BGG 

Designer: Tsuyoshi Hashiguchi   

Publisher: Next Move, Ghenos

Artist: Chris Quilliams

2-5 players  20-30 min.   ages 8+   MSRP $13

Time to teach/learn: 5 minutes

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Music credits include:

Five Colors   by Sam Phillips  |  the song

Five Colours in Her Hair  by McFly  |  the song

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Flotsam Fight

Release: 4/15/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 56 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

A treasure hunter’s life is never easy. Especially when the ship with your treasure capsizes and all your loot starts to float away!

Flotsam Fight is a card shedding game that plays like an old classic.Your goal is to put as many treasure cards as you can onto lifeboats. The problem is, each treasure will only fit onto certain boats. And when one player finishes loading up, you don’t want to be stuck with an armful of big loot!

Tune in to see why we think Flotsam Fight packs a ton of Major Fun into such a small box.

Flotsam Fight

Oink Games |  BGG |  Buy

Designers: Tomoyuki Maruta

Publisher: Oink Games

2-6 players  30 minutes   ages 8+   MSRP $23

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Music credits include:

Gower Flotsam in Bordeaux   |  by Mabon  |  the song

Flotsam  |  by The Fogcutters  |  the song

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Illusion

Illusion

NSV|  Pandasaurus  |  BGG

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 20 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $15

text-the concept

Illusion asks the simple question: Can you trust your eyes? All you need to do is put cards in order, from low to high, based on just one color. Everything is right before you— if you can believe what you see.

Illusion takes child like concepts of shape and color, more and less, and turns them into Major Fun for everyone at the table.

Illusion has players ranking cards with abstract shapes, based on which card has more of one particular color. Each following player must either accept the order as correct, or challenge the existing order.

text-the components

Illusion uses 110 cards. 12 cards make up the arrow deck, with 3 in each of the four colors(red, green, yellow, and blue). In addition, there are 98 color cards. These each have an abstract pattern on the front, using the four colors. The backs all state the ratio of each color on the card, ranked in percentages.

text-the mechanics

Shuffle the 12 arrow cards and flip one face up. This card will indicate which color matters for each player this round. The 98 color cards are shuffled, and the deck is placed face up. Now the top card of the color deck is placed in line with the arrow card. 

After choosing a starting player, that person takes the next card from the color deck. Without looking at the back, the start player must order the two cards from lower to higher based on the arrow color.

Now, you, as the next player, have a decision to make. Are the two cards in the correct order, from least to most of the color in question? If you think they are, then it’s your turn to add another card to the queue. Ignoring the three other colors, where does the new card fit in? Least? Most? Middle?

On the other hand, you may decide the cards aren’t ordered correctly. You then question the validity of the entire row. Flip over all the color cards. On the back of each card are the percentage of the color in question. Did you guess correctly?

If you did, you receive the arrow card as a reward. It counts as one point to your score. The goal is to score 3 points, or to have the most points if you play through all 12 arrow cards.

However, if the row was in correct order, the previous player gets the point.  Then, discard all the color cards, and begin a new round. In either case, the player who was awarded the card is the new start player.

text-apart

1). Illusion asks you to consider math differently. Typically, math is all about formulas and numbers and ratios. I give you a certain amount of info, and you apply the theorems to find the exact answer. And, that’s just about as fun as that sounds.

Forget that. Illusion demands you use your eyes, your gut, your feelings, to determine if this card has more red than another. The exact numbers are hidden. You need to go on your instincts. The game even uses terms like trust and believe.

2). Illusion asks you to question what art is. The color cards are computer generated. Squiggles, lines, geometric shapes, and the occasional letter or number. Is this art? Strictly speaking, no. And yet, there’s a subtle beauty in every color card. Aside from serving a mathematical function, each one stands as a small piece of art, conforming to the demands of the game.

And, as you judge each card for its value, the simple beauty of the shapes and colors takes hold. You are taking in art and evaluating it, not only for its beauty, but also for its conformation to the rules of math.

3): Illusion is tricky without being overly complex. Those little triangles of green might add up to more than that big splotch on the other card. It’s magic is more slight-of-hand than make-an-elephant-disappear.  It’s charm is simple, subtle, and impishly deceiving.

text-final

Illusion challenges your brains in a different way. Illusion is smart, without being smarter than its audience. And this makes it easily accessible to most ages.  But even though you’ll be thinking or seeing in new ways, Illusion never forgets that the end goal is fun.

Illusion is, as its name suggests, illusory. It poses a simple question—More, or Less? But the complexity which results from that question poses a challenge for young and old.

And that challenge is most certainly Major Fun.

Written by: Doug Richardson

Piepmatz

Release: 2/18/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 74 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

A flock of little songbirds gather at the feeder to eat. One by one, different birds hop on the perch and carry away their meals, large and small. Can you gather the best collection of bird and seed cards as the feeder empties while avoiding greedy squirrels and angry crows?

Piepmatz is a beautiful and beautifully simple card game for players of all ages. It’s easy to learn but provides an enjoyable, ever-changing puzzle to sort out each turn.

It takes creative vision to find a game in something so seemingly ordinary. That vision is a sure path to Major Fun.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Piepmatz

Lookout  |  BGG

Designers: Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle

Artist: Klemenz Franz, Mike Langman

Publisher: Lookout Games

2-4 players  20-30 minutes   ages 10+   MSRP $15

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Music credits include:

The Birds   by  Ottorino Respighi  |  music

Space Oddity  by David Bowie (Antonin Charvat)  |  music

Ancestral Plane  L. Goransson

(Uzowuru & Kleinman Remix) | music

Birds on a Wire  by Jarbas Agnelli  | music

Grantchester Meadows  by Pink Floyd  |  music

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Monster Crunch

Monster Crunch

Big G Creative |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
Publisher: Big G Creative
2-5 players 20 minutes ages 9+
MSRP $20

text-the concept

It’s Saturday morning. You and your monster friends are bored and hungry. There’s only one way to settle this: make breakfast into a battle. Get your bowl and spoon and ice cold milk ready to go. Crack open your box of sugary cereal cards and play as many as you can over the course of three hands. The monster who munches the most cereal wins and walks away the champion of breakfast!

text-the components

There are 180 very colorful cereal cards, divided into five 36 card decks. Each deck looks like a box of cereal with a classic General Mills monster: Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Fruit Brute, and Fruity Yummy Mummy. Each deck has 3 cards numbered 1 through 12.

Each player starts with one of these decks, a matching bowl and a tile that explains your monster’s special powers.

The bright and attractive artwork draws you into the game. And there’s an undeniable nostalgia factor in play as well. If you’re of a certain age, the game will almost instantly pull you into pleasant memories of hours spent staring at these characters at the kitchen table with cartoons blaring in the background

text-the mechanics

Monster Crunch draws its inspiration from a style of classic card game called a ladder game. Why ladder? Each round, you must play a card (or a set of cards) that increase in value – up and up like rungs on a ladder. Each round ends when you get to the top of the ladder because everyone else cannot or does not want to play.

Ladder games are a very popular genre both in Asia and in the West and there are many different variations all played with a standard deck of cards. Zheng Shangyou is the most famous in China. In the West, it’s President. And many modern card games have introduced their own spin on this classic: The Great Dalmuti, Gang of Four, Lexio, and Tichu just to name a few.

Enter Monster Crunch, adding its own voice to this chorus.

The game is played in three hands of 12 cards. On your turn you will play a single card to your bowl to stay in for the round or you will pass. The card you play must be equal to or higher than the previous card played (climbing the ladder). If I play a 3 to my bowl, then you must play a  3 or higher to your bowl or you must pass.

Eventually, as the numbers go higher and higher, you will be forced to pass. When you do, you will bank all the cards you played to your bowl. These cards will form your score for the game. You’ll also get a milk token when you pass if you’re not the last player in the round. Rounds continue until one player gets rid of all his or her cards. The player that ends the hand will score 12 points (1 point for each card). The other players will score any cards banked during the hand.

Most points after three hands wins the game.

text-apart

Monster Crunch adds two fun twists to the ladder genre: milk tokens and monster abilities.

Normally, each round you may only play a single card to your bowl and this card must be equal to or higher than the previous card played. For each milk token you spend, you may play an additional card to your bowl. The additional card can match the card you play OR the be the next consecutive number. If I play a 7 and add a milk token, I can play another 7 or an 8.

In both cases, whenever you use milk tokens, you add up all the cards played to form a single number. If I played the 7-8 with my milk token, the number for the next player is 15!

With milk tokens, you can create a numbers that are higher than the highest numbered card in the deck! Milk tokens give you a new way to see every hand you play. They add an element of flexibility and strategy that’s simple to understand but fun to manage

Each monster also has two special powers to use during the game. Yummy Mummy can swap a card from its hand with one in the score pile. Count Chocula can reverse the rules for a round so that players must play cards equal to or lower than the previous card.

Each power can have a significant impact on a particular round, so the trick is knowing when to make best use of them as the game moves forward.

text-final

Monster Crunch provides a wonderful introduction to the ladder game genre. It is innovative but ridiculously accessible. Play a card equal or higher than the last one – there’s the essence of the game. Monster Crunch gives players permission to bend or break this basic rule. Deciding when and how to play outside the normal rules makes the game more rewarding and more fun every time you play.

The draw of nostalgia and its bright and happy art is powerful and compelling but without a  rock solid game beneath, Monster Crunch would get soggy and dissolve like cereal left sitting too long in milk.

Lucky for us, Monster Crunch packs a one-two punch filled with Major Fun.

Special Note:

This review appears in the Winter 2018/19 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.

CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis.  In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.

The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.

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The Mind

The Mind   NSV |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 15 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $15

text-the concept

Have you ever been in The Zone? Maybe you found it playing music. Everyone in the orchestra playing in perfect time. That pure sweet sound is impossible to forget. Or you found it on the basketball court – each teammate anticipating the moves of the next – it’s like poetry – no one can stop you and no one can miss. It’s special, being in The Zone – a moment of perfect harmony – being totally in synch with everyone around you. Special because The Zone is so hard to find and special because it’s so hard to stay in The Zone once you do! If you get there even for a few fleeting seconds, it’s like magic. The Zone leaves its mark on you and you’ll strive to find it again and again.

The Mind is a cooperative card game that wants its players to find The Zone…and stay there as long as they can! Over the course of several rounds, your team must find a common wavelength to play numbered cards in order to a single stack hoping to reach your goal.

text-the components

The Mind has a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.

There are also 5 life cards and 3 throwing star cards.

text-the mechanics

The Mind is played over 8, 10, or 12 rounds, depending on the number of players. The goal for your team is to reach the end of the final round with at least one life remaining. If your team runs out of lives, you lose.

In round one, each player gets one card. Round two, two cards and so on. A round ends when all cards have been played.

One at a time, players will add a single card to a central stack, trying to play all cards in ascending numerical order a la Solitaire.

We’re in Round 2. My hand is 8, 22. Your hand is 15, 73. We want to the stack to go 8-15-22-73. If a card is played out of order, any cards skipped over are shown, discarded, and the team loses a life.

Beyond simple, right? And, yes, even now I can sense some eyes rolling.

But there’s one key element I have yet to mention and this is….

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While playing The Mind, you cannot communicate verbally with your teammates! You cannot indicate the numbers on your cards with gestures or sounds! You must communicate mentally with your teammates and find a way to play every card dealt out for the round in order to the stack.

It will seem crazy at first – perhaps to the point that you might question whether this is actually a game.

But then it will happen. Your team will find The Zone. Somehow, some way, your team will navigate through a minefield of consecutive cards. I play the 68, followed by 69 and 70 from the next two players and you’ll feel the magic. When, not if, this happens, there will be smiles and cheers all around.

How does this happen? What transforms The Mind from a game of Silent Solitaire to a game of telepathic synchronicity?

The Mind asks you to play based on reading your fellow players and not the cards.

While direct communication isn’t allowed, we all transmit a wealth of subtle social clues and cues. The closer we all pay attention to what is happening at the table, the more we are able to observe and interpret. It’s like a new language your team creates and learns as you play.

A subtle glance from the player to your left. A nuanced placement of cards from the player on your right. These things take on meaning and help your team connect and occasionally find The Zone. And when you do, win or lose, there are few feelings better to experience at the game table.

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The Mind is fueled by a powerful kind of playfulness – the joy of playing together in harmony, in synch. Each new game and each new team will present a new set of challenges, a new language to learn, a new opportunity to create those moments where everything lines up. And even when it all goes horribly wrong. No, especially because things often go horribly wrong, it makes those moments in The Zone ones you’ll remember long after you leave the table. Simple, ingenious, and consistently compelling, The Mind drills deep into the essence of Major Fun.

Special Note:

This review appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.

CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis.  In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.

The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.

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Anansi & The Box of Stories

Release: 6/26/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 150 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

The Coleson-Conway era of The Spiel comes to a close with a celebration of our shared passion and love of trick-taking card games.

Anansi is a role-selection trick taker where players gain the abilities of animals from West African myths. Score points based on the tricks you take and avoid becoming the Fool.

Take the A Chord is a jazz themed trick taker where the Key (and the game) can change with a single card. Watch out for improvisations and try to take just the right number of tricks to win.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Anansi & The Box of Stories

Level 99 Games  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Ken Maher   

Artist: Stephanie Johnson

Publisher: Level 99 Games

3-8 players  15 – 30 min   ages 8+   MSRP $25

 

For info on Take the A Chord and the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

Music credits include:

Anansi Song Story   by Agya Koo Nimo  |  the song

Take the A Train  by Nikki Yanofksy  |  the song

Changes  by Moby Grape  |  the song

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